In the Philippines, President Marcos has backed a decision by the Supreme Court which many observers see as a rebuff to the system of marital law which he introduced to his country five years ago.
In the Philippines, President Marcos has backed a decision by the Supreme Court which many observers see as a rebuff to the system of marital law which he introduced to his country five years ago. In spite of this, President Marcos was given a mandate to continue with marital law by the referendum held on Saturday (17 December). The decision taken by the Supreme Court called the Army to suspend immediately the military trial of Mr. Benigno Aquino, President Marcos' main political rival. Last month Mr. Aquino was sentenced to death by a military tribunal for murder, subversion and illegal possession of arms. But following international protest, President Marcos instructed the tribunal to reopen the case. In the meantime Mr. Aquino appealed to the Supreme Court. They decided that the military tribunal had acted in haste and that the hearings should tops until it had resolved constitutional and legal issues relating to the case. President Marcos created reacted by saying that the Supreme Court had acted properly in the exercise of its authority.
SYNOPSIS: In an interview on Friday (16 December) he said the decision showed the court's independence.
SPEAKING IN A RECORDED INTERVIEW WITH THE LONDON-BASED TELEVISION NEWS AGENCY, VISNEWS, MR. MARCOS SAID THE SUPREME COURT HAD ACTED PROPERLY IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS AUTHORITY. HE SAW IT AS A DEMONSTRATION OF ITS INDEPENDENCE IN SAYING THE MILITARY TRIBUNALS SHOULD BE SUSPENDED UNTIL IT HAD DECIDED ON PETITIONS BEFORE IT, BOTH FROM MR. AQUINO AND HIS CO-ACCUSED, BERNABE BUSCAYNO, ALIAS COMMANDER DANTE, ALLEGED COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE UNDERGROUND COMMUNIST NEW PEOPLE'S ARMY (NPA).
REUTER -- PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS TODAY BACKED THE PHILIPPINES SUPREME COURT IN ITS CALL TO SUSPEND THE HEARINGS HE HAD REOPENED OF A MILITARY TRIBUNAL THAT HAD SENTENCED TO DEATH HIS ONE TIME ARCH POLITICAL RIVAL, BENIGNO AQUINO.
MR. MARCOS DENIED SUGGESTIONS THAT THE SUPREME COURT HAD CRITICISED THE PRESIDENT, WHO SET UP THE MILITARY TRIBUNALS UNDER THE MARTIAL LAW HE IMPOSED IN SEPTEMBER 1972.
HE ASKED THE TRIBUNAL TO REOPEN THE TRIAL AFTER AQUINO HAD COMPLAINED THAT IT HAD SUDDENLY RUSHED TO JUDGEMENT AND NOT GIVEN HIM A CHANCE TO MAKE A STATEMENT ON THE CHARGES. THESE INCLUDE A PART IN A 1967 MURDER, SUBVERSION AND ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS BEFORE MARTIAL LAW.
MR. MARCOS NOTED IN THE INTERVIEW THAT THE SUPREME COURT MIGHT STILL ALLOW THE TRIBUNAL TO CONTINUE OR DECIDE ANOTHER WAY OF DEALING WITH CASE.
HE BELIEVED THAT IN SOME CASES THE MILITARY TRIBUNALS WERE MORE TECHNICALLY COMPETENT IN LAW THAN MANY OBSERVERS THOUGHT, ESPECIALLY AS SOME OF THE MEMBERS WERE TRAINED IN LAW.
TO A SUGGESTION THAT THE SUPREME COURT HAD NOW FACED HIM WITH A DILEMMA ON WHETHER HE HOLD FREE AQUINO MR. MARCOS DECLARED "THAT'S RIDICULOUS."
EARLIER TODAY, THE DEFENCE DEPARTMENT CONFIRMED THAT THE MILITARY TRIBUNAL HEADED BY BRIGADIER GENERAL JOSE SHOULD AGREED TO CANCEL ITS SCHEDULED PROCEEDINGS WHILE DENYING SUPREME COURT CHARGES THAT IT HAD ACTED IN HASTE.
LATER, SPEAKING ON NATIONWIDE TELEVISION, PRESIDENT MARCOS SAID THAT MR. AQUINO HAD PREVIOUSLY REFUSED TO ACCEPT A PARDON OR AMNESTY.
HE ADDED THAT HE DID NOT WANT TO GO INTO DETAILS BECAUSE OF THE PENDING CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT.
"BUT REST ASSURED, WE HAVE THE MATTER UNDER STUDY," HE TOLD A QUESTIONER.
MEMBERS OF AQUINO'S FAMILY HAVE SAID PREVIOUSLY, HE COULD TO ACCEPT A PARDON AS THIS WOULD BE AN ADMISSION OF GUILT. AMNESTY, OR A COMPLETE CLEARANCE WOULD BE A DIFFERENT MATTER, THEY SAID.